Alumni Stories

MA in Cultural Studies alumni work in a variety arts, cultural, and educational settings.  Read what some of our graduates have to say about their experience in the program and the ways in which it influences their current endeavors.

Debbie Brown, '11

PhD Student, Leadership Studies, Gonzaga University

In 2007 Debbie Brown was a domestic violence survivor and was living out of her car. But even then, she was determined to realize her dream of completing her undergraduate education and going to graduate school. At the time, her daughter was attending Cascadia Community College, which is co-located with the UW Bothell campus. She urged Debbie to go with her and they spent the next year taking classes together. The following year Debbie transferred to UW Bothell and found herself in a thriving interdisciplinary setting. In 2009 she graduated with a BA in Culture, Literature, and the Arts and was the Chancellor’s Medalist. Encouraged by Professor JoLynn Edwards, Debbie applied to the Cultural Studies program, with the ultimate goal of earning a PhD.

Debbie chose the Cultural Studies program for its exposure to multiple disciplines, including critical theory, feminist theory, critical race theory, and human and cultural geography, as well as for allowing her to work in her area of scholarly interest, African Studies. She is now working on her PhD in Leadership Studies with an Emphasis in African Studies at Gonzaga University. In this program she continues to examine social issues in the light of cultural studies theory. Recently, Debbie won a Fulbright Study/Research Grant for the 2014-15 school year and will work in Zambia to document and archive the cultural history of the Chewa people. Debbie hopes to use cultural studies theory to examine the problems of poverty and hunger in Zambia and throughout Africa, as well as to problematize and critique current structures of foreign aid. Her career aspiration is to teach, research, and write in a university setting.

Jeremy Richards, '10

Learning and Development Manager

An accomplished radio producer, writer, and actor rooted in the Seattle’s arts community, Jeremy Richards desired a graduate education that would stretch the bounds of his creativity while broadening his professional options. Seeking a cross-disciplined approach integrating various fields of cultural study, Jeremy chose the MA in Cultural Studies as a venue for his intellectual pursuits. While in the program, he focused on the writings and music of Friedrich Nietzsche, the cultural landscape of belief, and the praxis of creative collaboration, leading to his capstone, "Nietzsche! The Musical."

After 15 years in radio, Jeremy shifted his career to the sector of information technology. At Microsoft, he began as a team building consultant using the theory and techniques of improvisation. His role expanded into project management, and Jeremy viewed his non-traditional background and Cultural Studies training as an asset. It provided him with a framework for assessing the patterns, rituals, values, and pedagogies which are pervasive within his organization’s culture, allowing him to work in new and inventive directions.

Update: Jeremy has worked as a Master Facilitator at Fierce, Inc, and is currently a Learning and Development Program Manager at Amazon supporting business objectives of the North American Delivery Stations (DS) Operations team.

Ann Hemmons Ferreira, '10

Localization Specialist

Raised in Brazil, Ann Hemmons Ferreira saw the visible and invisible mechanisms of power, privilege, and influence that characterized the dominant–subordinated system and the overuse/misuse of privilege.  Greatly affected by the inequities around her, Ann desired an advanced education that would deepen her understanding of these dynamics in the hopes of someday becoming an educator. With the ultimate goal of teaching at a university, Ann chose the MA in Cultural Studies program to expand her knowledge of cultural theory and research practices. During her course of study, Ann developed a fascination with video game culture, a space where different - often disenfranchised - people could socialize, deconstruct ideas, and create new worlds. This interest drew Ann to the arena of game localization, a role that entails modifying new software and hardware to make it accessible, usable, and culturally suitable for audiences around the world. In tandem with her linguistic and cultural knowledge of Latin America, Ann’s ability to identify, dissect and translate various forms of culture has given her a competitive edge in this growing field.

Update: Ann is now working as a Project Manager at Microsoft providing localization and quality control expertise.

Randi Courtmanch Evans, '10

Performing Arts Specialist

Coming from a traditional performing arts background, Randi Courtmanch wanted to expand her practice through deeper engagement with the social and cultural dimensions of her work. Randi had been involved with different communities and populations, and she was looking for a base from which she could explore and ground her artistic and research interests more fully. Randi chose the MA in Cultural Studies program for its interdisciplinary approach and emphasis on collaboration across diverse sectors. During her studies, she interned for Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas (CD Forum), a local nonprofit organization which presents and produces African American cultural programs that encourage thought and debate. This experience provided a setting for Randi to practice her theoretical learning while further honing her skills and knowledge in arts administration. Following graduation, Randi accepted an administrative role at CD Forum and taught for four years at UW Bothell in the areas of art, performance, and student development.  She is currently a doctoral student in Performance Studies at University of California Berkeley.

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"The Cultural Studies program was excellent preparation for my PhD studies. The interdisciplinarity at UW Bothell, both in the undergraduate and graduate programs, gave me a well-rounded education, taught me to think critically, and trained me to do rigorous research. I recommend the Cultural Studies program to anyone interested in exploring the role culture plays in our ever-increasingly complex world."

--Debbie Brown












“Cultural Studies is informed by theory and provides a more robust approach to bringing about change. In any context, I can see how Cultural Studies applies and fosters creative collaboration.”

--Jeremy Richards














“The Cultural Studies program opened my mind to opportunities I would not have seen before. I am passionate about the complexity of the gaming industry because I see the potential for interrupting the serious ethnocentrism in our society. Gaming allows players to experiment with culture and stereotypes, and I am using my Cultural Studies training to affect positive social representation within this sector.”

--Ann Hemmons Ferreira








“The Cultural Studies program has played a vital role in my career trajectory. The capstone project, the learning and professional portfolio, and the mentoring of faculty all helped me focus on where I wanted to be after the program. Today I find myself enjoying the many facets of cultural work – both in the classroom and in community-based settings.”

--Randi Courtmanch Evans